DU Claims Sixth Consecutive Directors' Cup
Pioneers enjoy another successful season on and off the field
For the sixth consecutive year and the 10th time in 11 years, the University of Denver has been awarded the Learfield Sports DI-AAA Directors’ Cup. The Pioneers finished ahead of all non-football schools in the 2017–18 Division I standings.
“Once again, our student-athletes and coaches performed at a tremendously high level,” says Karlton Creech, vice chancellor for athletics, recreation and Ritchie Center operations. “It is something we are growing used to here at the University of Denver and is reflective of the goal we have to be comprehensively excellent, not just great in one sport or two, but great across the board.”
DU’s 47th-place national finish is tied for the third best finish in program history. The Pioneers also ranked second among non-FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) schools and finished ahead of 21 of the 65 Power 5 conference schools.
“We are attracting great talent, both on the field and in the classroom,” Creech says. “People want to come here and be a part of this overall success that we have had at the University of Denver. So much credit for that goes to Peg Bradley-Doppes [who served in Creech’s post until recently] and what she was able to accomplish here over the last 13 years. The coaches have bought into that ideal, and student-athletes are attracted to that.”
The Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup was developed as a joint effort between the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USA Today. It is presented annually to the nation’s best overall collegiate athletics program, and points are awarded based on each institution’s finish in up to 20 sports — 10 women’s and 10 men’s. Overall, 11 of Denver’s 16 sports scored points in 2017–18.
This year, the Pioneers’ ski program captured its 24th national championship and the University’s 33rd overall. Denver is one of five athletic departments in the country to win at least one national championship in each of the last five years (skiing: 2014, 2016, 2018; hockey: 2017; men’s lacrosse: 2015).
“Our ski program is phenomenal. We are able to recruit the best talent in the country and have competitive skiers in every discipline; it’s just an incredible legacy,” Creech says. “We have great history in the program, but the history is continuing. Our student-athletes that we have here now and the ones we are going to bring in in the future are just as good as those who are a part of our past.”
Just as impressive as success on the field is success in the classroom. For the third consecutive year, 93 percent of student-athletes left the University of Denver with a degree.
“Our student-athletes graduate at a higher rate than the general student body at the University of Denver,” Creech says. “They are disciplined, and they are dedicated to receiving a degree from the University, and that’s what makes us most proud. Young people are changing their lives through education.”